Five months ago, Lester Holt temporarily took over the NBC Nightly News anchorman’s chair following the sudden exit of Brian Williams who was suspended following the discovery that he had made false claims as a newsman. Three weeks ago, Mr. Holt was named the permanent replacement.
Nielsen now reveals that the Nightly News is in first place in the ratings race. In the most recent five-day period ending July 6, “Nightly” won an average audience of 8.1 million viewers, compared with 7.5 million for ABC World News Tonight and 6.6 million viewers for the CBS Evening News.
Mr. Holt, a veteran newsman with over three decades of experience, has his own modus operandi which incorporates some traditional news tenets.
“You can call any fancy title you want - principal anchor, executive producer, news director - at its essence, we are all reporters. That’s what we should be, that’s what we should aspire to be, and that’s what makes us good at what we do,” Mr. Holt declared after receiving a First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association last year.
Mr. Williams, meanwhile, has been sent over to MSNBC, assigned to cover breaking news at the cable network, which tends to lag in third place behind Fox News and CNN. He also faces a smaller audience: about 300,000 on a typical night. NBC News chairman Andy Lack reasons that Mr. Williams may actually give the cable network a ratings boost.
“Brian now has the chance to earn back everyone’s trust. His excellent work over 22 years at NBC News has earned him that opportunity,” Mr. Lack said last month.